George Kahumoku Jr. celebrates release of new CD
WEST MAUI – It’s 2020, and we’re blessed to live in this isolated West Side community, connected by the roots of the ulu and the kalo, by the waters that flow through the valleys and by the flame that torches our learning at Lahainaluna High School.
There are chicken-skin constants as our voices join together at the end of a concert, singing in unison “Hawaii Aloha,” raising our hands in a collective call to all that we are – West Maui.
No one can deny our unique spirit, and the personalities that have fueled it, and George Kahumoku Jr. is one Native Hawaiian son that over and over again takes us beyond who we are to the next level of good.
As always, the new decade for this multiple Grammy and Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning slack key performer is charged full to overflowing with his passion for opening new doors, walking untried pathways and sharing these experiences.
His most recent release, “Renaissance Man, Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar & Vocals,” was submitted to the Hawaii Academy of Recording Arts (HARA) as a contender in the 43rd annual Na Hoku Hanohano Awards.
The CD features eight vocals and five instrumentals, including seven originals: “Ho’okupu Kamapua’a,” “Imi Au Ia Oe,” “Piiholo Ride,” “Ka Aina O Kaonoulu,” “O Haleakala National Park” and “Beautiful Napili.”
“I am excited about this new collection on my CD,” George said. “My wife Nancy and I so enjoyed producing this, along with our Slack Key Show Ohana, Peter deAquino, Max Angel, Sterling Seaton and J. Elliot Prestwich.”
Kahumoku proudly earned the “Renaissance Man” moniker given to him by Aunty Nona Beamer “for having one foot in the taro patch and one hand in technology while I was teaching Special Motivation Program (SMP) classes at Lahainaluna High School from 1992 to 2012,” where he also taught art and ceramics.
According to his online bio, the multi-talent also was credited with “directing the inception of the Institute of Hawaiian Music at UH Maui College.”
He tours annually on stages across the world and the continental United States and hosts the weekly Grammy-winning Slack Key Show Masters of Hawaiian Music at Napili Kai Beach Resort.
As if the 60-plus-year-old didn’t have enough to keep his Hawaiian hands busy, Kahumoku sponsors an annual Hawaiian Cultural Workshop in Napili, offering lessons in slack key guitar and ukulele as well as hula, Hawaiian language, kapa-making, Hawaiian cooking and other cultural practices, like fishing, lauhala weaving, lei-making and songwriting.
In 2020, Kahumoku will be touring in January on the East Coast and the Midwest with David Kahiapo and Led Kaapana. In March, Jeff Peterson and Nathan Aweau will join Kahumoku on stage while touring the West Coast.
According to a press release, “George spends his free time maintaining his three-acre farm growing fruit and vegetables, dry-land taro (for his famous home-made poi) and tending his goats, chickens, ducks and miniature horses. True to his Hawaiian heritage, wherever he goes, George brings bundles of fresh produce to share with friends and students.”
The cover art, block prints by Kahumoku, on his latest release was influenced by the canoe plants growing in his yard.
Sharing is an innate quality flowing in his blood.
“I am a mentor for the University of Maui Campus Farm Apprentice Mentoring Program,” Kahumoku advised.
“It is in my DNA to teach us how to be sustainable and care for our resources,” he explained. “I consider myself a Hawaiian Native Practitioner and will share what I can ’til I die.”
To this end, Kahumoku is initiating a Farmer Inmate Training program for inmates transitioning back into our Maui community inspired by Mike Zelko, an inmate now in prison in Arizona.
“My passion,” Kahumoku continued, “is connecting people with a window into our Hawaiian culture and sharing our Hawaiian values of Aloha-love; Kokua-helping others; Laulima-many hands making light work; Kuleana- taking responsibility for ourselves, our families and community; and also Wahi Pana-creating and respecting sense of place of where we come from and our connection to the aina (land), kai (sea) and our Honua (Earth).
“It is also important for us to connect to each other and take responsibility for the food that we eat and grow, including the animals, fowl and fish that we consume.”
Kahumoku is quick to reveal his motivational force.
“I am inspired to share the aloha and Hawaiian culture that was shared to me by my kupuna and elders, such as my great-grandparents, Willy and Lottie Kahumoku; my parents, George Kahumoku Sr. and mom Aileen Perez; my grandmother, Emily Lihue Hoopale Dulay; Aunty Edith Kanaka’ole; Aunty I’olani Luahine and Tutu Kawena Pukui; Eddie Kamae from the Sons of Hawaii; and Unko Bob Nelson, who wrote ‘Maui Waltz’ and ‘Hanalaei Moon,’ ” he said.
“I was also mentored by Aunty Irmgard Farden Aluli and her younger sister, Aunty Puanani Edna Farden Bekeart, as well as my classmate’s mom, from Kamehameha Schools, Keola Beamer’s mom, Aunty Nona Beamer.”
“I hear Akua’s message every day, and its guidance that I live every moment of my life,” he concluded.
Copies of “Renaissance Man, Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar & Vocals” are available for purchase locally at The Slack Key Show, Lahaina Music and Request Records. It is also available online at Kahumoku.com and CDBaby.
More information can be found online at www.kahumoku.com and www.SlackKeyShow.com.